PW 336: Moving out without moving on

Can you maintain a relationship while changing the cohabitation situation?

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2:00 News and host chat

  • LustyGuy cohosts
  • Psychology Today reporting on a University of Michigan study that showed that people perceive nonmonogamists to have more negative traits, including paying taxes late and flossing, as well as being more sexually risky. A previous study showed that consensual nonmonogamists practice less risky sexual behavior and are more likely to get tested and use condoms.
  • A new site for HSV and HPV positives, Love H Style
  • The Drama Reduction Act

12:00 Moving Out Without Moving On

Vicky writes in to ask how to maintain a relationship when the living situation isn’t working out. Can primaries move out and still keep up a healthy relationship?

20:00 Listener Feedback

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2 comments to PW 336: Moving out without moving on

  • quinky_girl

    I don’t agree that HSV-positive people need to segregate themselves into separate dating websites. If some choose to do so, more power to them. I hope that every person (whether positive or negative) finds all the love their hearts and hands can hold!

    When I found out that I was positive, it was because I found out that doctors don’t normally test for HSV without a specific request for it. Indeed, you have to *insist* upon it. This can be really hard to do unless you’re out to your doctor. I was, and I did. And I found out that I was positive for HSV-2. This news rocked my world. I’d always asked to be tested “for everything,” but I wasn’t, and the doctor didn’t disclose that fact. The tests have gotten really, really accurate over the last few years, by the way, but the Western Blot test, done right here in Seattle at UW, is still the gold standard. Qwest labs across the US will do the blood draw for that test if your own personal doctor can’t be fussed with it. Life Labs in Canada will also do it.

    To be SURE that you’ve been tested for HSV, always ask for a copy of your labs.

    So, why don’t doctors test for herpes? Primarily, it’s because doctors aren’t too fussed about any potential medical consequences of HSV infection for the generally healthy population (and because the viruses are ubiquitous). They also understand the huge social burden of having the virus. And they are embarrassed to discuss sexuality frankly, so they generally don’t. Also, the anti-viral meds are hella expensive, several hundreds of dollars a month!

    So much for “generics” saving money. What a crock!

    Here’s a PSA — unless you DEMAND testing for HSV, you are not getting tested. Who knows how many years I’ve been positive, because I’ve never had an outbreak. I will say that every single lover I’ve had for the last five years came back negative. And I was fluid-bonded with a couple of them. So, I’ve had it at least that long.

    When I was diagnosed, I was shocked at some of the judgments I found in the poly community when I took to various poly forums looking for comfort and understanding. I was shocked to lose a lover I really cared about, especially because he didn’t even bother to do any reading on risk mitigation and management. His other lover said, “No dice,” and that was that. He really wasn’t all that into me. Better to know, right? Poly dating with herpes is even more complicated because even among partners who know better than to try to have veto power over each other’s OSOs, when it comes to germs, vetoes hold sway!

    I tried several herpes dating sites. God, talk about depressing! They were filled with serial monogamists who judged me for being poly and with people who were playing the blame game about their statuses. I didn’t find a single herpes dating site that was sex-positive. The vibe was more like, “Holy fuck! We have herpes! Our lives are over! No one will ever love us again! I guess I’d better stick with my own kind.”

    Now, if I found someone who was HSV positive to whom I was extremely attracted, then Yay! Happy us! The thought, though, that I have to limit my dating potential to those who know they are positive is ridiculous. (Not that I’m saying that *you* were suggesting that by offering the plug for this website.) :)

    Let’s remember that by the age of forty as many as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have HSV-2.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5915a3.htm

    And rates of HSV-1 genital infections have increased by a third in recent years. Let’s face it — a LOT of us have genital herpes. It’s a numbers game. When you love sex and have lots of it, even with condom use, your chances go way up.

    So, why should such a sizable minority segregate themselves? In my humble opinion, those websites do more harm than good. Maybe this website you shared is different. I feel no need to check it out, though.

    I’d like to encourage you to remind your listeners that while it’s okay to decide against taking someone with HSV on as a lover in order to protect your negative status, please BE SURE that your own status is negative before discriminating against such a sizable minority of poly people. Everyone’s tolerance of the “risk” associated with loving someone like me is different. So be it. For the immuno-different, viruses can be OH! such a big deal. Yet, it’s strange that we speak of people as being “risky,” when even spotless condom use is no guarantee that one of us won’t pick up a nasty. And all and all, I am one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and about as far from “risky” as you can get.

    Last year while interviewing for a new lover, I dated 6 men. During testing, and after I explained that being tested “for everything” doesn’t mean everything, two of them discovered that they were positive for HSV-2. 2 out of 6!

    I found one on OKC who wasn’t, but who loves being with me, anyway. Together we’ve had many happy poly moments. And so far (knock on wood) all my lovers continue to be negative.

    Thanks for the show, and thanks for letting me get up on my soapbox just a little bit. :)

    And remember:

    KNOW YOUR STATUS BEFORE YOU DISCRIMINATE! It’s only fair. :)

  • The issue of moving out while staying together is not that uncommon among monogamous couples, so the letter writer might benefit from asking her monogamous friends if they know anyone who has done this successfully. She may also want to ask people who have learned the hard way that they can be terrific friends with each other and not-so-happy housemates together, and have since moved apart while staying friends.

    The primary reason for monogamous couples (among those I know; take this all with the standard “this is what I know” bias) to move out while staying together is due to different work locations, rather than incompatible living styles. I assume that this is because our society assumes that living together is a mandatory eventual step in a relationship. Living together and not enjoying it is cause for ending the relationship, just like wanting to date other people, having incompatible sex drives, etc. Rather than find “alternate” solutions, we despair and terminate the relationship… or struggle with the issue miserably until finally finding some other reason to terminate the relationship.

    However, I have known couples who lived together and then had to move apart due to jobs changes. I have even been part of such a couple myself. Yes, that relationship eventually terminated, but not because of the move; we actually lived apart for three of our four years together, living together only for our second year. During the following two years, we did much of what we did for the first: stayed in frequent communication, made time for each other, and saw each other when we could.

    It’s great that the letter writer and her partner are able to realize that what they want from a home is radically different, but that does not mean that their relationship must end. I wish them luck in their move.

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